News Wrap: Obama Orders New Sanctions on Iran’s Government, Central Bank
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HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama has imposed new sanctions on Iran and its Central Bank. The move was mandated by Congress to increase pressure on the Iranian regime over its nuclear program. Today’s White House announcement followed growing talk that Israel might attack Iran soon to set back that effort.
But White House spokesman Jay Carney said the timing of the sanctions is not related to those reports.
JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: There has been a steady increase in our sanctions activity. And this is part of that escalation. And it’s not related to — specifically to that issue or the questions about it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. and Israel say Iran’s ultimate goal is to produce nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes only.
Greece agreed today to a major new austerity measure eliminating 15,000 government jobs. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund pressed for the cuts, as part of a bailout deal worth $170 billion. Greek unions have called for a nationwide strike tomorrow to protest the new cuts.
Wall Street got off to a slow start for the week. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 17 points to close at 12,845. The Nasdaq fell more than three points to close just under 2,902.
A deep freeze paralyzed much of Eastern Europe for another day. The cold wave is more than a week old, with no immediate end in sight. Rescue crews in Bosnia used helicopters today to evacuate trapped residents and deliver food to remote mountain villages. And people in Eastern Romania worked to dig out from the heavy snow.
Meanwhile, children across Serbia took to the sleds, after officials declared an emergency and canceled school for the week.
MILIVOJE MIHAJLOVIC, Serbian government spokesman (through translator): The decision to declare an emergency situation is primarily to protect citizens. We made the decision that children do not go to school for a week primarily because of their health and to save energy.
HARI SREENIVASAN: At least 150 deaths have been blamed on the European freeze.
Google India has taken down Web pages within their network that the Indian government deemed offensive to political and religious leaders. The move came today after a New Delhi court ordered 22 major Internet firms to do more policing of what is available to online users. The Indian communications minister insisted it is not a question of censorship, but one of responsible behavior.
The New York Giants arrived home today after beating the New England Patriots 21-17 to win Super Bowl XLVI. The players flew into Newark, N.J., today, bringing with them the Giants’ fourth Super Bowl championship trophy. Airport workers waved the players off. A parade and rally are planned tomorrow.
The game was the most watched program in television history. But NBC and the NFL had to apologize today for an incident at halftime, when British hip-hop star MIA made an obscene gesture.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.